Ariane 5 arrives at the launch zone for Arianespace’s November 17 mission with four Galileo satellites
Arianespace’s sixth Ariane 5 for liftoff this year has rolled out to the launch zone in French Guiana, clearing the way for the heavy-lift vehicle’s first-ever mission to orbit satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation system.
The Ariane 5 nears completion of its transfer from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building – where this heavy-lift vehicle received the payload of four Galileo satellites – to the ELA-3 launch zone.
The completed Ariane 5 was transferred today atop its mobile launch table from the Final Assembly Building – where payload integration occurred – to the Spaceport’s dedicated ELA-3 launch complex, setting the stage for Arianespace’s ninth overall mission in 2016 across its full family of Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega vehicles.
Designated Flight VA233 in the company’s numbering system, this upcoming Ariane 5 mission – set for Thursday, November 17 – will lift off at exactly 10:06:48 a.m. local time in French Guiana and deploy its quartet of Galileo spacecraft during a nearly four-hour flight.
A heavy-lift launch for Europe
Galileo is an important infrastructure program for Europe, creating a civil global satellite navigation system that provides highly-accurate positioning with great precision and reliability.
It is funded by the European Union, with overall responsibility for management and implementation held by the European Commission – while design and development of the new generation of systems and infrastructure has been assigned to the European Space Agency.
In support of the Galileo program, Arianespace is using the Ariane 5 ES version with an enhanced storable propellant upper stage that allows for reignition and long coast phases during the mission.
These upgrades maximize the launcher’s performance for deploying the Galileo spacecraft – which will have a combined mass of 2,865 kg. at liftoff – two at a time into a circular medium-Earth orbit. The satellites were built by OHB System in Bremen, Germany, with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) supplying their navigation payloads.